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Though chemistry may seem mysterious and mystifying, it an important and integral part of our lives.

"It can be interesting, engaging and understood by the public as well as scientists," said Katie Leach, of Crown Point, who has a doctorate in chemistry and is a member of the American Chemical Society. "The ACS is trying to bring science to the community and show people how chemistry is related to our daily lives."

As co–chairman of the ACS's Chicago section's public relations committee, Leach said she's made it her mission is to encourage others in scientific community to become members of organization and to encourage lay people to take advantage of the educational opportunities the organization provides.

The ACS, a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress, is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry–related research through its multiple databases, peer–reviewed journals and scientific conferences.

The group has more than 163,000 members, including more the 4,500 is the Chicago section, which encompasses Northwest Indiana. There are 115 members from Lake and Porter counties.

Its mission is to take a "leadership role in educating and communicating with public policy makers and the general public about the importance of chemistry in our lives." The mission also includes identifying new solutions, improving public health, protecting the environment and contributing to the economy.

With 2011 being celebrated as the International Year of Chemistry, Leach is encouraging more scientists from Northwest Indiana to get involved in the ACS.

"We're putting out a call to scientists and to students studying to be scientists to inform or remind them that this organization exists," Leach said. "It's great for networking and it looks great on a resume."

Through its programs, the ACS also helps its members keep up with the latest developments in their areas of expertise, monitor advances in related fields and contribute to the advancement and recognition of their scientific discipline.

Annually, the ACS offers awards, grants and scholarships to students planning to make chemistry their field of study.

It also has numerous programs and a vast supply of information for the public on important issues such as water quality. And through its Chemistry Ambassador program, it connects members and their message about the importance of chemists and chemistry with the people who live in their communities.

Ambassadors use non–scientific language to inform the public about their chemistry jobs, inspire future generations by planning activities and sharing ACS resources with local educators, spread messages conveying the value of chemistry to the media, talk to lawmakers about policy issues, and engage the community with a chemistry demonstration.

There are 87 Ambassadors in Indiana and 197 in Illinois. They provide teachers with information and demonstration kits that are easy to use, support the classroom curriculum, and introduce kids to chemistry and the wonder of scientific discovery.

Members of the organization's Chicago section have agreed to come into the schools to help teachers conduct water experiments, Leach said.

ACS dues are $146 a year for professionals with discounted rates for students